IRS Advisory Group Recommends Retirement Plan Practitioner Program

June 10, 2005 ( - Several thousand TPAs, consultants and other retirement plan service providers would be expected to register with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) if the agency creates a new practitioner category as is now being recommended.

The Internal Revenue Service Tax Exempt and Government Entities Advisory Committee this week suggested to the tax agency that it set up a new practitioner program, Enrolled Retirement Plan Agents (ERPA).

The group said it made the recommendation in light of the significant growth in recent years of plan service providers who are not now authorized to practice before the IRS but who nonetheless play an important part in their clients’ tax compliance. Employers often rely on this group to maintain the tax-qualified status of their plans, according to the report.

By creating an ERPA program, the group said, the IRS would bring this group of retirement plan professionals more directly under the agency’s purview, making them subject to the agency’s ethical and legal standards for practitioner conduct. The ERPA program would be administered by the Office of Professional Responsibility under the proposal.

Over the first five years, approximately 3,000 to 6,000 practitioners could be expected to sign up said Mary Beth Braitman, a project coordinator, and partner in the law firm of Ice Miller, in Indianapolis.While the vast majority of retirement plan practitioners adhere to ethical practices and the law, Braitman said IRS has little recourse against those who breach acceptable standards of conduct.

The limited scope of ERPA practice would include filing of applications for determination letters, filing for extensions for Form 5500, responding to employee plan audits, and negotiating with IRS on behalf of clients with respect to voluntary compliance matters.